Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mentoring Moments and More for Millennials

Guest post by Dianna Booher:

Millennials drop an employer quicker than they leave a boring party when they see no career-growth opportunities. Career development is the cool calling card––a powerful tease to job seekers you’d like to have join your team.
Today’s employees want personalized career plans that fits their goals, dreams, and lifestyle. They expect their individual leaders to show interest in their career and coach them on how to reach their potential. Leaders know all this. They actually want these career-development opportunities for themselves.

The problem? In this understaffed, deadline-driven climate, developing team members simply drops to the bottom of a leader’s to-do list. Managers insist they’re so busy that they have little or no time to coach or even consider these “extra benefits” like career development.
But wait. We’re not talking “training” here—as in designing training courses and sending  staffers off the job. Who has time to wait for them to return and play “catch up” for days or weeks? Strategic thinkers often do things differently today. Consider any one or several of these “mentoring moments”:

Mentoring Moment #1:  Create an “aside” conversation. You may not have an hour to devote, but you can spare a minute or ten. When the occasion occurs, invite the team member to “Step into my office for a minute. I just decided to sign a contract with Z Company. Let me tell you how I arrived at that decision, so in the future when these things come up, you’ll have some background here.” The individual will understand that you are investing time—no matter how brief—in their career development.
Mentoring Moment #2: Touch base periodically about their interests for future assignments and career growth.  Has anything changed in their immediate and long-term goals? Any new skills gained?  New stretch assignments they’d like to tackle? Hobbies become career aspirations. Career aspirations fade to become only hobby interests. Income and savings goals evolve as family situations change. Their health or a family member’s health may necessitate lifestyle and career choices. Staying updated on their current needs and goals demonstrates interest.

Mentoring Moment #3: Suggest resources—things or people. Make millennials accountable for their own development. Suggest resources they may not be aware of—your company’s HR function, a local university, industry conferences, books, audios, subscription programs, webinars, podcasts, or online programs. But whatever they choose, make sure your team understands that they’re responsible for their career development in the same way they’re accountable for their physical fitness. Simply mention a resource that you’ve found helpful, and suggest they may want to investigate further for their own purposes.
Later, reinforce their personal accountability every chance you get.  Ask if they found any of the resources you’ve mentioned helpful. What did they like or not like? Did they find another book, course, podcast, blog, or app more useful?

At staff meetings, as part of your discussions from time to time, ask team members what books, articles, or blogs they’re reading. What conferences have they attended? What new insights have they gained that they can share with their colleagues?
All of these opportunities demonstrate interest in career development for the team and for individuals. And such casual discussions accomplish several additional purposes: They keep you up to date on changes in employee goals, reinforce that team members themselves own the responsibility for their personal development, and give them opportunity to get a mentoring moment from more experienced group members. And you, as leader, have facilitated that learning.

Developing your team doesn’t mean another block of time at the end of an already overwhelming month or quarter. A mentoring moment or two can be brief but powerfully engaging. After all, what employee doesn’t like to talk about themselves—their goals, their dreams, and their future opportunities?
Dianna Booher is author of 47 books, published in 60 foreign-language editions. Her latest book is CommunicateLike a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done. She works with organizations to help them communicate clearly and with leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence. Good Morning America, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Bloomberg, Forbes.com, Fast Company, FOX, CNN, NPR, Success, and Entrepreneur routinely interview her for opinions on critical workplace communication issues. www.BooherResearch.com  @DiannaBooher

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